Since the late 1950’s, space probes have been sent up to explore the Solar System.
A space probe is a unmanned robotic spacecraft that does not orbit Earth, but instead, investigates in deep space and transmits their findings back to Earth.
A space probe is about the size of a family car, they are launched from Earth by rocket or space shuttle, to travel to a certain target.
A space probe might also carry a second smaller probe for release into an atmosphere .
Some space robes might often carry a space lander craft for release to touchdown on planetary or lunar surfaces.
To date, space probes have investigated all the Solar System planets, taken a look at many of the Moons, Comets, Asteroids and have even studied the Sun.
Every Space Probe have different missions and collects different data.
Most probes are powered by a combination of batteries and solar panels.
Most probes are not designed to return to Earth. Some have landed on planets and some have just flown past the planets, taking pictures for scientists to investigate. All the information they gather is used to understand the weather and other changes that happens on planets, other than Earth.
The first probe (satellite) to go up into space was the Sputnik 1, it was launched on Oct 4, 1957, by the former Soviet Union.
The Luna 1, launched by the Soviet Union in 1959, was the first man-made object to go into orbit around the Sun.
Space probes do not have astronauts.
There are three types of space probes, there are lunar (moon) probes, solar (sun) probes, and probes that investigate the rocky surfaces on planets or the gases on gaseous planets. They all have different missions.
The first probe to land on Mars and transmit pictures from its surface back to Earth was the Luna 9, on February 3rd, 1966.
Probes use radio waves to send information back to Earth, or sometimes to a manned spacecraft.
From 1975-82, Russia had six probes land on the surface of Venus, successfully taking photos in temperatures of 855 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Soviet Union launched the Korabl-Sputnik probe on the 19th of August, 1960, into orbit with 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants. One of the dogs later had puppies, one of which was sent to then First-Lady Jackie Kennedy.
The Korabl-Sputnik 2 was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them back safely to Earth. It paved the way for the first human orbital flight.
The Parker Solar Probe was launched by NASA, in August of 2018. It’s mission is to get closer to the Sun than any other probe has ever been before. The probe will arrive to the closest point to the Sun by 2024, which will provide scientists with the closest view of the star.
The Parker Solar Probe is named in honor of the physicist Eugene Parker, at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars.
The Soviet Union probe, Luna 15, actually crashed into the surface of the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were still on it.
As compared to crewed flights, automated space missions are far more economical and of course, less risky to human life.
Billions of dollars worth of facilities and hundreds of people are involved in following the flight of each space probe and in intercepting the data it transmit towards Earth.
Up to 40 space probes have been launched since the former Soviet Union first fired Luna 1 towards the Moon in 1959.